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How do I avoid business burnout?

Part of the Buzgate / SME Toolkit Learning Series

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Running your own business is demanding, dynamic and often unpredictable making it easy to experience burnout repeatedly and often. At the same time, however, there are five (5) fool proof ways to minimize and even avoid burnout before it happens.

Have a business plan, Any entrepreneur who has ever asked for help in starting or growing their business has been repeatedly told the importance of having a plan, yet many still do not have one. As a result, they have nothing to turn to for direction when getting overwhelmed by day-to-day distractions.

By using a straightforward Business Plan Outline and jotting down your ideas and objectives for each aspect of your business, you will have a road map to turn to for determining how much you might be getting off track and not seeing the forest through the trees.

Manage Cash Flow
Weekly – One of the most common sources of stress for anyone in life is managing money and when it comes to succeeding in business, cash is king. In fact, one of the most common reasons people go out of business is lack of cash flow. This can happen when there are not enough revenues being generated, but it can also happen when a business is growing, sales are increasing, and yet the timing between getting paid and having to cover expenses related to growth is such that there is no money to pay the bills.

By using a cash flow worksheet (ADD to SMEToolKit bft.html#forms ), you can stay on top of cash flow to the penny each day, each week and every week to come. This will allow you to know in advance if there is going to be a gap and so you can proactively address ways to secure additional capital as needed, or postpone spending.

Understand and Track Breakeven  – Another common source of burnout for many business owners is that they do not understand breakeven. Breakeven is simply knowing at any time, whether the business is making more money than it is spending. Ideally, there is more money coming in than going out, which means that the business is operating profitably. Using bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks, or working with a local CPA firm or other financial advisor on a routine basis, is critical in this regard. One sure way to avoid burnout is knowing at the end of each month that your business is operating profitably.

Use a Time Planning Schedule (LINK = ADD to SMEToolKit /content/pdf/time_plan.pdf) – There are many different time planning tools available. The important point is to use one and use it regularly. This is also important if you have staff. The objective is to provide a routine and effective platform whereby each person in the business is aware of their respective long term goals. These goals may then be broken down into specific tasks of work to be performed each day with progress assessed at the end of each week. By using a weekly planning tool, everyone in the organization knows what they have to do, progress can be tracked, obstacles can be overcome through teamwork and achievements can be celebrated.

Surge and Recover – Beyond any business planning tool, process or system is a little bit of common sense, which can go a long way to avoiding burnout. With so much competing for our attention today at any given moment of any given day, it is important to take time to step back, shut off the cell phone, ignore email and recover. This may be as simple as taking a walk, going for a run, or just sitting quietly. Practicing this habit each day provides a sure way for helping you to run your business and not let it run you.

Focus Points
1. Business plan
2. Business plan outline
3. Managing Cash Flow
4. Cash flow worksheet
5. Tracking Breakeven
6. Time Planning Schedule

SME Small Business Learning Series

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